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Currency

Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs in larger towns and cities using a UK credit or debit card, though you may have to advise your bank first and amounts that can be withdrawn may be lower than in the UK. Banks will offer advances on a credit card. Money exchanges (casas de cambio) change US dollars cash (very few accept euros or sterling and the rate will be poor).

When to go

The country is an all-year destination. The highlands have a permanent spring-like climate. The Caribbean coast is mostly dry and hot with plenty of sun, at its driest Dec-Mar. The Amazon jungle is hot and humid all year. Beach resorts can be very crowded at weekends, national holidays and Dec-Feb.

Language

Spanish

Time difference

GMT - 5 hrs

Getting there

Average flight time to Bogotá is 14 hrs. There is a direct flight from London Heathrow to Bogotá (11.5 hrs) and popular non-direct routes involve a change of plane in Europe or the USA.

Combines with

A tour in Venezuela to the east, with daily flights from Caracas to Bogotá taking just 1hr 45mins; the Inca archaeological sites of Peru (flights Lima to Bogotá take 3hrs).      

Key events

Hay Festival: Cartagena, Jan, annually. An offshoot of the famous literary festival in Hay-on-Wye, it attracts Latin American and international writers and intellectuals of international renown.

Carnival, countrywide, Feb-Mar: The most famous and extravagant carnival takes place in the Caribbean city of Barranquilla, with frenetic dancing and parades of revellers wearing extravagant costumes.

Easter (Holy Week), countrywide, Mar-Apr: Many Colombians spend this week away at beaches and other popular destinations.

Flower Fair, Medellín, Aug, annually. A sumptuous floral celebration with displays of artistic creativity.

International Jazz Festival, Bogotá, Sep, annually. World renowned artists performing in front of thousands of jazz enthusiasts.

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